As an atheist, I find myself having to, every once in a while, muster futile attempts to explain God/Gods/Deities in relation to the natural world around us. As far as atheists are concerned, we live our lives as reasonable, rational individuals, and most of us view religion with some amount of contempt because of its inference to ancient, archaic scribes which hold no basis of truth nor bearing with regards to the progress of human civilization and science.
Yet, because of our non-beliefs, we are considered to be "people of the faith". Strange, argument, huh? The Christian's argument goes along a certain, convoluted train of thought:
1. The Universe and our existence has to commence at some starting point.
2. This starting point is God.
3. To disagree or refute the existence of God requires more faith than to believe in God, since it is almost impossible for us to exist without a definite First Cause (God).
Such a postulated argument is crude: It assumes that a non-belief stance in atheist is an ultimate exhibition of faith, based solely on baseless claims that a mystifying, patriarchal, invisible father must exist to set everything in motion.
The Sinister Meaning of Faith
A closer study of the word "Faith" will allow me to elucidate the impotence of such a moralistic trait.
According to the Oxford's Dictionary:
• noun 1 complete trust or confidence. 2 strong belief in a religion. 3 a system of religious belief.
Faith, in its most common usage, alludes to a inherent system of beliefs that are inanely religious in nature. Such beliefs are rather dogmatic: You believe in a system of religious beliefs not on the basis of any evidence of any kind. Rather, your beliefs stem from a complete trust or confidence in a set or subset of beliefs, and invariably these beliefs tend to wound up towards one goal: God.
Because theists cannot rely on evidence or scientific data to validate their beliefs, they invariably rely on faith to justify their stances. Without an absolutist, rigid belief in the dogmas of heaven, hell, the Original Sin or other similar hogwash, any church would find it almost impossible to sustain a large enough congregation for any extended period of time.
Faith In Action: How Faith Fucks Up Your Everyday Life
I am also told, by Christians no less, that we live our lives via faith, irregardless of our religious affiliations or lack of. I shall attempt to debunk such a debauched argument with regards to the "complete trust or confidence" definition of faith.
Allow me to use the following illustration: Let's just say I am buying a new laptop. I ask the dealer to demonstrate to me the various functions of the laptop, fiddle with it a little, and after a satisfactory review, I decide to buy it. Upon the purchase, I will keep the receipt, submit the warranty card to the manufacturer, and proceed to install the necessary software, assured with the knowledge that the laptop is in tip-top condition, but nonetheless keeping a close watch for any signs of malfunction.
Now, will I be silly enough to say, hey, I have complete faith in my dealer, that this laptop is going to function just fine, and therefore proceeds to purchase the model I am looking for without checking, and just to emphasize my great leap of faith, I proceed to dump the receipt and warranty card in the bin after the transaction is complete? Such a naive train of thought and action would delight many a unscrupulous businessman. In reality, such customers rarely exist, unless, of course, you are referring to the flock of a very large religious congregation (Hint: Think Pat Robertson).
Allow me to go one step further. Suppose I am a human resources consultant. I have been tasked with an assignment: To hire an experienced manager to run a chemicals factory. Will I rely on complete trust and confidence to hire a new guy? Obviously not. I will probably have to run through his CV, peruse his paper qualifications, and perhaps even go as far as to do a cursory background check on him (wouldn't want a potential terrorist to run a chemicals factory!).
If faith is one of the obligatory virtues of a systematic, working world, we'd be served by morons and hucksters and disreputable idiots of all shapes and sizes, and if world events are anything to go by, faith-based initiatives are some of the worst thought-of, awful propagandas ever to make its rounds in government policies.
Abstinence/Faith-Based Programs: Fucking Up the Show
When issues of faith gets muddled with politics, the end result is often disastrous: Bush's little jib-jab with God gave him the impetus to send his erstwhile Crusade in Iraq, and the results are, well, not very encouraging, to say the least (To be blunt, he fucked up the entire show.).
That aside, other "faith-based" initiatives, such as Bush's well-touted abstinence programs aimed at teaching the youth of America to abstain from sex, has been derided for its impotency at reducing STDs and teen pregnancies (link here).
In one of my earlier posts (link here), I wrote about sex as a legitimate, human need, not some kind of heinous, criminal act which must be strung high beyond the reach of sexually-matured human beings. It is a good thing, of course, to preach abstinence amongst teenagers: After all, they are still a little too "green" for the real "fun". But hey, who are we to dictate what youngsters do?
That said, a comprehensive sex education must provide alternatives to mere abstinence. If teenagers want to engage in sexual activity, there is a need to address the issue at face value, which means providing vital information, such as the use of condoms, contraceptives and other important measures for our youths to protect themselves.
Unfortunately, as is usually the case, whenever the issue of faith crops up, common sense is thrown right out of the window. According to abstinence groups who advocate no-sex only policies, condoms and contraceptives are bad for teenagers. Why? Oh, religion and God forbids them, that's why. In Catholic-dominated African countries, lies about leaky condoms and other scary, moronic tales (the one about masturbation causing people to go blind often drives me into a laughing frenzy. If only people are not so gullible....) are bantered about as gospel truth, which is almost senseless, considering the terrible spread of the AIDS epidemic in these impoverished countries. And to add to the ludicrousness of it all, a chiefly mortal issue has to contend with the whims of a imagined, psychotic deity.
As far as faith is concerned, it is like the perverted version of the Midas Touch: Everything it touches seems to degenerate into filthy, dirty scum.
Faith: Over-hyped, Detrimental to the Thinking, Rational Mind
In short, faith is a over-hyped and under-used trait: It can only be used in the context of servile, uninformed religious beliefs, and is often used in hucksterish, sinister means by fraudsters who care naught for the sheep they fleeced.
No one in the sane, secular world can apply the "complete trust and confidence" mode in any conceivable setting, whether it is in working life or school life. Sure, we can trust people and governments within a specific framework (there is, after all, no reason for you not to trust the cashier, but you'd still count your change, don't you???), but that kind of conditional trust cannot be equated with blind faith. Just as you do not vote for Presidents based on mere faith, one should not be expected to believe in silly myths and doctrines based on this largely baseless, servile and nonsensical trait.
By denying the human being's ability to assume a position of decision-making, faith makes a complete mockery out of its practitioners by emphasizing entirely on the basis of beliefs in the form of complete trust or confidence.
Faith as a form of moral necessity? Fuck it! In fact, I would go further to emphasize that faith is not only immoral, it breeds complacency, ignorance and worst, fraudsters who would seize any failure in the thinking faculties of the masses to unleash their weapons of mass deception.
-Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
-Christopher Hitchens, On Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Season 3, Episode 5: "Holier Than Thou"